Dougbe River Presbyterian School of Liberia
Many of our churches and one ministry team in our Presbytery have contributed to the progress of the Dougbe River Presbyterian School, which continues to be under construction in the west African nation of Liberia. It is the first school in a remote, impoverished region of eastern Liberia. The project began as the calling of Isaac Monah, a Presbyterian elder who left that region as a refugee from civil war in 1990 and now lives in South Euclid, Ohio.
Dougbe River Presbyterian School
2012 Annual Summary
On November 30, 2012, the first classes were held on our campus between the villages of Sayuo and Buway in Twarbo Region, Konobo District, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia. At the end of the year we had 104 students from Sayuo, Buway and Whybo, being taught by a six-member faculty led by principal Bob Nueita.
Here’s a brief overview of the year’s developments and accomplishments:
Fund-raising: You, our supporters, responded to our plea for money to buy a truck. You donated over $20,000 for the purchase and maintenance of what turned out to be a 1996 Toyota T100 – something a little older than what we had in mind, but also a lot less expensive, and with a high clearance and a strong engine. And you kept donating as we moved forward to open the school. Partner congregations and schools continued to provide money and energy.
Partnerships: The United Nations Mission in Liberia provided helicopter transportation when Jomo Barway Garlo, a guy who does a little bit of everything for us, was badly injured in a motorcycle wreck and needed to move from a hospital in Grand Gedeh County to a newer hospital in Nimba County. Barway recovered, and later in the year became our first paid employee. The German hunger and poverty aid group Welthungerhilfe put a well on our campus and is working on bridge repair in the area. Tiyatien Health, a group that is working to bring health care to rural Liberia and has focused on Konobo District, helped with transportation and communication. Grand Gedeh County education officer Bestman Charpy helped us find teachers, then came to the campus to lead an orientation for them.
Construction: Slow progress on the two classroom buildings and the principal’s house was a source of some frustration, but by the time the school opened 11 of the planned 14 classrooms were functional.
Staff and local leadership: We’re starting with a faculty composed entirely of Liberians, but from several different parts of the country. Principal Nueita tells us that in the first month the school was open, there was already a parent-teacher organization and a student-parent volleyball game. Local Board secretary Markson Farley registered students, led worship services on a rotating basis in the three villages we’re serving, and started teaching children in Whybo to read and write months before the school was ready to open.
The new year brings a completely new set of challenges. Now that the school is a reality, our dreams are about sustainability and expansion. We’re working to get a firm handle on the operating budget, as we gradually go from numbers that included a lot of guesswork to numbers based on evidence and experience. But we also need to think about a cafeteria building and dormitories that will allow us to serve nine other Twarbo Region villages we’ve promised to help. Those villages are too far away for students to walk to school, and there are also transportation issues for younger children in the three nearby villages. An orphanage that is one of our partner projects needs to be built. We need to provide electricity. We need to start agricultural projects on our land.
There’s a lot of work to do, but there’s also something to celebrate. There is a school in Twarbo Region.